The Right Way to Mix Your Skincare Ingredients

As we leave 2020 behind, there’s one trend that we hope is here to stay—self-care. In fact, studies show a 250% increase in self-care related searches last year during the pandemic. As we stayed home, we turned instead to alternative treatments, solutions, and information to allow us to manage a healthy lifestyle on our own. It’s probably no surprise that one the biggest self-care increases came from skincare routines. More than 20% of women said they used more facial skincare products than they did pre-COVID-19, altering their skincare routines in a positive way. But with a newfound focus on at home skincare routines, also came confusion of what to use in the morning and at night, which ingredients can be mixed, and the correct order to apply all these products. While it may feel like your skincare routine suddenly turned into a science project, here’s a few tips on what ingredients you can and cannot mix—and you don’t even need a chemistry degree.  


Better Together

Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid

Retinol can be drying to the skin so mixing with highly moisturizing products such as hyaluronic acid can draw water to the surface of your skin and seal in moisture. Retinol can also make your skin sensitive to the sun, so be sure to apply sunscreen (try one that is also moisturizing) when using products with retinol.


Vitamin C + Antioxidants

By first applying a vitamin C serum and then adding a moisturizer with antioxidants such as vitamin E and vitamin A you’ll boost the results of both products. And because vitamin C will also protect the skin against UV damage, you should always finish your morning skincare routine with sunscreen before applying makeup for extra sun protection.


Niacinamide + Almost Everything

Anti-inflammatory, niacinamide is excellent for treating acne and moisturizing the skin. A natural hydrator, it can reduce irritation, diminish the signs of aging, and increase the efficacy of other products. A real anti-aging game changer? Mixing niacinamide and retinol. Niacinamide can stabilize the skin’s barrier, reducing the amount of water lost and increasing overall hydration, which counter acts the side effects often experienced when using a product with retinol.  


Don’t Do It 

Vitamin C + AHAs/BHAs

As two of the most popular skincare ingredients on the market right now, chances are you have products containing both on your bathroom counter. AHAs and BHAs such as salicylic and glycolic acids are all effective exfoliants that can improve skin texture and help treat acne. Vitamin C is also essentially an acid that can help with fading of uneven skin tones and acne scars, so using it with any other acids is not typically a good idea. 


Retinol, Vitamin C + AHAs/BHAs

Some believe retinol is the anti-aging miracle worker thanks to its magical ability to treat acne, prevent dullness, plump and firm the skin, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But there are some side effects including flaking, dryness, retinol burn and increased sensitivity to the sun (always wear sunscreen). In short, the stuff is potent, so mixing it with other powerful ingredients such as vitamin C, AHAs, BHAs can cause additional redness, irritation, and sensitivity to the sun that your skin doesn’t need. Best to use vitamin C as part of your morning skincare routine, and retinol at night.


Two Products with the Same Active Ingredients

Basically, combining two products with similar formulas can reduce effectiveness due to the pH levels in both products clashing, causing only one to work. Instead use any products with similar ingredients at different times of the day, one in the morning and one at night.